No one but Bernard Hopkins remembers a “push”!
DECEMBER 17, 2016 – Former unified light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (55-8-2, 32KO) was 52 years-old and had already became the oldest champion in boxing history before losing his titles to then unified champion Sergey Kovalev the fight before. Now he would go up against a man spent the majority of his time doing construction work in Long Island, New York while trying to manage a boxing career in Joe Smith Jr (25-3, 20KO).
The hard-hat employee had already caused a major upset when he stopped former championship hopeful Andrzej Fonfara as he was coming of two of the biggest wins in his career in just one round! The buzz around the power Smith possessed was major!
However, since Hopkins was still fighting at a high-level despite his age, many believed he would teach this younger opponent a valuable lesson much like he did to another calculated power puncher eight years earlier in former unified middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.
We were ALL in for a treat!
Smith would give the old man lots of trouble as he stalked the 52 year-old who couldn’t sustain the reflexes and lower body movement in order to elude the pressure. Early on, Hopkins would give his overly aggressive opponent a lesson on running into counter punches as Smith suffered a cut in the second round. However, those old legs would not hold up in the middle rounds!
In round eight, a right hand would put the senior citizen through the ropes and out of the ring! The rules state that a fighter has twenty seconds to get back into the ring in which he would be evaluated by the referee to conclude if he can continue. Think when WBC middleweight champ Gerald McClellan knocked challenger Nigel Benn out of the ring in the first round and would eventually recover then win back in 1995.
Hopkins did not take advantage of this rule and would protest for the duration of the twenty seconds that he was pushed out of the ring while holding his head. Unfortunately for Hopkins, the replay on the jumbo-tron showed Smith landing a right hand that buckled him, then followed up with a left hook that put him out the ring!
Til this day (in my Deontay Wilder voice) Hopkins claims he was pushed! This would be the only knockout loss the former undisputed middleweight champion would suffer in 67 bouts spanning 28 years!
The silver lining out of all this would be that the oldest champion in boxing history had to be over half a decade old before ANYONE could knock him out! Go figure!
By: EJ Williams